Formerly known as the GS 430, for 2008 Lexus' midsize sport sedan adopts a larger engine, mildly revised styling and a new name: the GS 460. The upsized V-8 comes from the brand's flagship LS 460; in the GS, it makes 342 horsepower. Both models use an eight-speed automatic. Competitors include the BMW 550i, Mercedes-Benz E550, Cadillac STS V-8 and the forthcoming Jaguar XF.
Lexus used the BMW 5 Series sedan as a benchmark to develop the latest GS, which comes with rear-wheel drive. A new V-6 goes into the related GS 350, which can also be fitted with all-wheel drive. A gas-electric hybrid engine powers the GS 450h. Both models are covered separately in the Cars.com Research section.
A new Smart Access and Start system includes a push-button starter to fire the engine. An option group couples adaptive laser cruise control with a pre-collision system that can take appropriate steps when sensors detect that a crash is imminent.
Changes for 2008 include a chrome grille border that sits closer to the headlamps than before, as well as a new bumper with a narrower air dam and resized fog light portals. The side mirrors now have integrated turn signals.
Lexus says the GS is more futuristic than its predecessor, touting its long hood and set-back cabin. Featuring uncluttered sheet metal, the GS 460 has a very short rear deck and wide tapered C-pillars that flow back toward the rear of the car.
Long side glass and a steep back window enhance the GS 460's performance image. Overall length is 190 inches; the GS 460 is 71.7 inches wide and the wheelbase is 112.2 inches. Aluminum wheels hold 18-inch tires, and all-season run-flat tires are optional.
Lexus' Adaptive Variable Suspension automatically selects appropriate damping for different road conditions, with four driver-selectable modes. An Active Power Stabilizer system aims to reduce unwanted body roll. Variable gear-ratio steering changes the steering ratio for tighter or wider steering depending on the speed of the car. Differential steering control includes up to 2 inches of active steering if the driver encounters a side wind. A brake-pedal stroke sensor is installed; when tapping on the brake pedal on a downgrade, the transmission will downshift and remain in that gear.
Up to five can fit comfortably in the GS 460's leather seats. Perforated leather comes in a choice of three colors. Ten-way power front seats with heated and ventilated upholstery are standard. The dashboard is trimmed with genuine bird's-eye maple or California walnut wood. A variable transparency lens reduces glare on the gauges, which have been redesigned for 2008. A power tilt/telescoping steering wheel is standard.
A 7-inch dashboard screen can work with the optional navigation system. The system includes Bluetooth, voice activation and a rearview camera. A 10-speaker sound system is standard, and a Mark Levinson surround-sound system with 14 speakers is optional. Trunk space totals 12.7 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
The GS 460's new 4.6-liter V-8 is shared with the LS 460 sedan. A detuned exhaust system turns out 342 hp — the LS makes 380 hp — but it's a substantial increase over last year's 290-hp V-8. The automatic transmission now has eight speeds. Using the EPA's more-realistic 2008 testing procedures, gas mileage actually increases: It's now 17/24 (city/highway); by the same standards, the older version was rated at 16/23.
Lexus says the GS 460 sprints from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, which puts it 0.3 seconds ahead of both the GS 350 and GS 430. The torque-rich GS 450h is still the quickest of the bunch, at 5.2 seconds.
Front knee airbags, side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags are standard. Lexus' optional pre-collision system incorporates active braking, which can trigger the brakes automatically under certain conditions.
The GS 460's advanced stability system anticipates instability or skidding before it occurs, monitors actual versus intended action, and helps correct problems using a mix of braking, throttle and steering control. Drivers who want to slip, slide and induce oversteer can shut the system off.
Standard adaptive headlights swivel several degrees during turns to help illuminate corners. The optional Pre-Collision System uses radar to sense impending collisions. If a crash is imminent, the system can tighten seat belts, stiffen the suspension for maximum maneuverability and even start applying the brakes.